An eternal song of encouragement

I am amazed at the longevity of some old songs. Both Aruna and I were reminded of this song first up today morning, as frequently happens. Why did this one surface and not any other, I really can’t explain. There just cannot be a logical or scientific explanation. The song is from a movie way before I was born, my parents were still in school..

But I have heard the song many times and it has stuck in my mind. This is from the early days of the brilliant career of a true thespian, Ashok Kumar (Dada Moni), from his Bombay Talkies days. He started his career as a technician in the company thanks to his brother in law Sashadhar Mukherjee who was already working there in a senior capacity and Ashok Kumar had scuttled his law studies and finally landed up in the world of Bollywood. Ashok Kumar was studying in Calcutta to be a lawyer as desired (ordered) by his father and went about by the name Kumudlal Ganguly at the time. He flunked his law school exams and ran away to Mumbai to escape his father’s ire. Sashadhar Mukherjee played a big role in bringing his father around to accept the decision and got Kumudlal the job of a laboratory assistant in Bombay Talkies, located in Malad, something that gave him enough money to support himself. He was happy working as a laboratory assistant and remained in that position for some five years. His acting career was initiated purely by accident. Bombay Talkies headed by Himanshu Rai was shooting Jeevan Naiya with Himanshu Rai’s beautiful wife Devika Rani as the female lead and Najm-ul-Hassan as the male lead, who got other ideas and eloped with the lady leaving the project in limbo and Himanshu Rai furious. Devika Rani subsequently returned to her husband as soon as the scales fell off her eyes, who accepted her but quite naturally gave the heavy boot to Najm-ul-Hassan’s posterior, effectively finishing his career. He summarily ordered Kumudlal to replace him, just to show he was the boss and could make a hero out of anyone he chose. This he did pretty much over the head of and against the advice of the film director Franz Osten, who didn’t think Ashok Kumar was actor material. Himanshu Rai stuck to his guns and gave Kumudlal the screen name Ashok Kumar, in keeping with the general trend of the times. Jeevan Naiya didn’t do well at the turnstiles at all, but Ashok Kumar stayed. His next movie with Devika Rani, Acchut Kanya was a superhit and in thematic terms quite a revolutionary movie, way ahead of the societal norms. He then completed a number of highly appreciated movies with Devika Rani and later with Leela Chitnis, who was also his senior in the industry and a big star. They had a number of hit movies, Kangan, Bandhan, Azad and Jhoola. This song is from Bandhan and I remember seeing Jhoola on DD Mumbai in the early 70s Sunday evening … the duet with Leela Chitnis (Main Ban ki Chidiya remains etched on my mind). This song is from Bandhan.

It has lyrics by Pradeep and the music is by one of the earliest female composers in Bollywood, Saraswati Devi. It turns up on a number of occasions in the movie .

The child singing is Suresh. Incidentally a Character in the movie played by Shahnawaz is called Suresh too.

The voices in the usually heard version are of the lead pair, Leela Chitnis and Ashok Kumar. The movie was a huge success with the public of the time and even had the critics going gaga. The usually acerbic critic Baburao Patel wrote about the movie in glowing terms

Stay safe, enjoy a wonderful, joyous Diwali 2020. Lets stay united and beat the evil symbolised by the evil empire and its instrument of bioterrorism.

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

4 replies on “An eternal song of encouragement”

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